January 28th, 2021 Last Updated on: February 1st, 2021
Wahleah Johns of Navajo Nation will head the U.S. Office of Indian Energy Programs and Policy. Meanwhile, Robert Anderson of the Boise Forte Band of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe and Ann Marie Bledsoe Downes of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska will work under Haaland in the Interior Department. Biden announced the bids on Jan. 20, the day he and Vice President Kamala Harris took office.
Johns is co-founder and director of Native Renewables, a company that brings solar energies to Native communities. In her role, she will promote tribal energy development, reduce Indian tribal energy costs and bolster tribal energy infrastructure, according to energy.gov.
It’s a critical role, given that Native American and Alaska Native lands contain approximately 5 percent of all renewable energy resources. On these lands, approximately 15 million acres of potential energy and mineral resources are undeveloped, estimates the Department of the Interior.
I feel honored for my nomination to serve in the Biden-Harris administration as the Director of Indian Energy at DOE. As the original caretakers of this land, I believe Tribes can lead the way to solving our climate crisis and building a regenerative and clean energy future.
— Wahleah Johns (@wahleah) January 23, 2021
Anderson, will take up his role as principal deputy solicitor, in which he’ll advise the Interior Secretary for cases involving the federal government. Anderson is a professor at Harvard Law School. Before that, he taught law at University of Washington School of Law and led the university’s Native American Law Center.
Bledsoe Downes will step in as Deputy Solicitor for Indian Affairs. She currently works as the executive vice president of community impact and engagement at Ho-Chunk Inc.
In addition to Haaland and the three aforementioned selections, Biden also assigned Dr. Jill Jim of Navajo Nation to the administration’s COVID-19 Advisory Board.
Jim works as the executive director of the Navajo Department of Health. Her presence on the board will be much-needed, as Navajo Nation and many tribal communities have been particularly hard-hit by COVID-19.
According to a statement from the Biden administration, over 80 percent of first day appointees were people of color, adhering to “the Biden-Harris commitment to diversity.”
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